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Friday Grab Bag — Relax

There’s this weird cyclical event that comes in four year spans. After each Olympic break, the Senators inadvertently stumble out of the gate. Unlike the 2006 Games in Turin, the team’s struggles can’t be pinned on Dominik Hasek’s adductor injury but that hasn’t stopped others from shitting on Pascal Leclaire. Here’s a look at what some of the mainstream and bloggers takes on the Senators’ goalie…

  • You have to wonder what the early hook will do to an already fragile psyche. This is pretty clearly Brian Elliott’s job to lose right now and I really doubt we’ll see much of Leclaire the rest of the way. ~ Sens Chirp
  • If anything, the loss to the Carolina Hurricanes has cured me of my season-long faith in Pascal Leclaire. ~ Jeremy Milks, Black Aces
  • Leclaire gave his team absolutely no chance to win this game, and the Senators really needed big stops from their goaltenders when their effort level was taken into account. ~ Mark Parisi, Silver Seven Sens
  • Pascal may be done…when you are a reaction goalie and get those “Happy Feet”…you’re done! ~ Canucnik
  • Clearly Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice made the right call in net. Clouston couldn’t say the same. ~ Ken Warren, Ottawa Citizen
  • At the rate they’re going, the Senators are making GM Bryan Murray look foolish for being a buyer rather than a seller at the trade deadline. ~ Don Brennan, Bruins fanboy and a key cog of the All-Star writing trio for the Ottawa Sun

(Ed. note: Alright, so Doni B’s comment really doesn’t hit on Pascal Leclaire, but I couldn’t help but include it. It’s too ridiculous not to mention.)

A lot is being made of Ottawa’s recent struggles and for good reason. Prior to the Olympic break, the team was killing it and had climbed to third place in the Eastern Conference because of an 11-game winning streak. At the time, I had a few concerns that the team was peaking a little too early, but I think that it’s premature to start worrying about righting the ship just yet.

For starter’s Brian Elliott has been fantastic for the past month and a half. According to Jim Hughson’s blog, Elliott has posted these numbers since January 18th…

Record:: 12-3
GAVG:: 2.17
Save pctg:: .927

Maybe it’s time I start to invest a little more faith and confidence in a player who has historically progressed and gotten better at each level that that he’s played at. Take a glance at Elliott’s career numbers (courtesy of hockeydb.com)

Season Team Lge GP A PIM Min GA EN SO GAA W L T Svs Pct
2003-04 U. of Wisconsin NCAA 6 0 0 336 12 0 0 2.14 3 3 0 124 0.912
2004-05 U. of Wisconsin NCAA 9 0 0 467 9 0 3 1.16 6 2 1 156 0.945
2005-06 U. of Wisconsin NCAA 33 1 2 2008 52 0 8 1.55 25 5 3 783 0.938
2006-07 U. of Wisconsin NCAA 36 1 0 2053 72 0 5 2.10 15 17 2 867 0.923
2006-07 Binghamton Senators AHL 8 0 0 425 30 0 0 4.24 3 4 0 233 0.886
2007-08 Ottawa Senators NHL 1 0 0 60 1 0 0 1.01 1 0 0 28 0.966
2007-08 Binghamton Senators AHL 44 0 0 2394 112 6 2 2.81 18 19 1 1206 0.915
2008-09 Ottawa Senators NHL 31 0 0 1667 77 3 1 2.77 16 8 3 709 0.902
2008-09 Binghamton Senators AHL 30 0 2 1691 65 1 2 2.31 18 8 1 816 0.926
2009-10 Ottawa Senators NHL 42 0 0 2294 100 5 3 2.62 22 14 3 984 0.910

And as James Gordon mentions in an article on the Ottawa Citizen’s website, maybe part of the explanation for the Senators poor play up front has been the flu that is making its way through the Senators dressing room. Three players — Peter Regin, Ryan Shannon and Jarkko Ruutu — all missed practice Friday morning because they were ill. Centre Jesse Winchester also missed for personal reasons.

Sutton’s Worth

Thanks to Puck Prospectus’ Tom Awad (via ESPN Insider), I now have some semblance for how valuable Andy Sutton’s addition will be for the Ottawa Senators in the standings. Here’s the breakdown from Awad.

Deal: Senators get Andy Sutton (2.7 GVT in 53 games) from New York Islanders for a 2nd round pick

Analysis: Sutton figures to give the Senators more snarl on the blue line because, at 6-foot-6, he is one of the most imposing blueliners in the league. In Long Island, Sutton was given many of the tough defensive assignments, often used when faceoffs were in the Islanders zone and playing against good opposing players. The one knock against him is a lack of offensive skill, but that’s not why the Senators are acquiring him. A dependable defensemen like Sutton can help reduce quality scoring chances by the opposition.

Based on Sutton’s 2.7 GVT, Awad projects that his addition will translate itself into one extra point in the standings for Ottawa. One point!

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